akumassa chronicle 2016 Darivisual National

What Is Empowerment?

Written by Manshur Zikri

This article is part of the Eleven Stories from the Southeast written by Muhammad Sibawaihi, Otty Widasari and Manshur Zikri, published by Forum Lenteng in 2016. We re-upload it on the AKUMASSA website in the framework of the “Darivisual”.

In this past year, more or less—starting from the end of 2014—the ontological and ideological overviews of the term ’empowerment’ have been becoming one of the topics that interest us,[1]We are the main actors who are involved in various activities of AKUMASSA. This program is initiated by Forum Lenteng and as part of the Program of Community-Based Media Education, since 2008, it has been collaborating with local communities in different regions to develop a media center that can independently produce and distribute knowledge-information-experience in order to build the local areas where those communities are located. following the development action of its implementation strategy manner that we have tried to do. For example, the anxiety of the meaning of ‘community empowerment’-triggered by the realization that the combination of those two words can be ambiguous-has been presented based on a case study of the arts community in Jatiwangi (see Zikri, 2015). In response to the combination of those two words skeptically, the presentation offered the idea of ‘media empowerment’ as an alternative to achieve a state of ’empowered community’. Then, we felt that the definition of that single word ’empowerment’, in fact, needed to be discussed as well.

Stating clearly the definition of ‘empowerment’ is the main thing because based on the experiences that we have found, the ideology of the ’empowerment’ becomes so vague because of the stereotype which attaches to the intention and action of some agencies/people who implement it. This definition is useful to see deeper the ideological essence that is carried in AKUMASSA Chronicle Art Project event.

The Empowerment. What Is That?

Provided we agree with the word ’empowerment’, reviewing the meaning of this word etymologically is an important first step because in fact there is some literature showing that the overview of empowerment itself (as a concept) is indeed ambiguous. Not only because its scope can be very broad and interdisciplinary, but also because that word is easy to be misinterpreted and misused because of its root, power.

From the theoretical perspective of management knowledge, for example, Lincoln, Travers, Ackers, and Wilkinson (2002, p. 271) states: “For its chief proponents, empowerment is a humanistic device to improve the quality of working life for ordinary employees. For its critics, it is the latest management ruse to intensify work and shift risk.” Meanwhile, there is also a statement that says that the term empowerment is often used without clarity, in a narrow concept—only refers to a particular discipline or work programs that apply it—or even without a definition at all; consequently, empowerment is then seen as no more than a popular ‘echo producer’ word which is put forward to ensure that certain activity programs get a new funding (Page & Czuba, 1999).

The gathering between artists and curators organized in the frame work of artist residencies project at AKUMASSA Chronicle 2016, Pemenang, North Lombok.

Meanwhile, Elisheva Sadan, a lecturer at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, explains that along with the footing establishment of the term empowerment in social and political discourse, the overviews of it are not uniform or balanced either: some professional actors use it to enrich their rhetoric without any commitment at all to its message, while others present the empowerment merely as a psychological or political process exclusively, or use it to soften the radical rhetoric for the sake of expressing sensitivity to the individual but at the same time aspiring to change the society (see Sadan, 2004, p. 14).

Lincoln et al. (2002, pp. 272-273) also explain that empowerment is a term with a radical left-wing lineage which has been transformed into right-wing managerial discourse, so that it becomes attractive, loose and ambiguous enough for it to gain superficial initial acceptance at all levels of an organization. Of course, this superficiality is a problem. Responding to that, they offer two alternative solutions: (1) forgoting the seductive language of empowerment altogether, or (2) making clear statements as to meaning and intention at the start of any initiative involving empowerment.

That explanation confirms that we need to look at the definition of the word ‘power’ itself. In A Dictionary of English Etymology (Wedgwood, 1872), the word ‘power’ comes from the word ‘pouvoir‘ (from French), ‘povoir‘ (from Old French) and ‘potere‘ (from Italian). While based on the Online Etymology Dictionary, this word can mean ‘the ability to act’, especially in a war—or ‘military power’—which derives from the word ‘povoir‘ (from Old French) and from the word ‘potere‘ (from Vulgar Latin). Meanwhile, a brief description in The Oxford English Dictionary (online version) states that the word ‘power’, which has been used in the Middle English era[2]By the same source, it is mentioned that this era was in the 1150-1500’s., derives from the word ‘poeir‘ (from Anglo-Norman French[3]The style of Norman French-the Old French spoken by the Normans-which was used in England after the William of Normandy’s conquest of England and became the language of the British nobility for a few centuries.) and is the alteration of the word ‘posse‘ (from the Latin word that means ‘be able’ or ‘capable’). The top two definitions offered from the website for the word ‘power’ are (1) “The ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way”; and (2) “The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events”.

Meanwhile, tracing its etymology with reference to The Oxford English Dictionary, Lincoln et al. mention that the word ’empowerment’ was first used in 1849 as a term which meant ‘the action of empowering; the state of being empowered’, but the verb ’empower’ itself had already appeared in English about 200 years earlier. That word (’empower’, which is a combination of the prefix {em} and the root {power}) also derives from French and Latin. As their statement:

‘Em’ probably comes from the Old French for ‘en’, and they were, at one time, interchangeable words meaning ‘in’. The Latin source of ‘em’ is, however, more complicated. ‘Em’ and ‘en’ also held the same definition of to ‘look’ or ‘come’. This provokes interesting thought as to modern interpretations of the word ‘empowerment’, but it is more likely that its origins lie with the preposition ‘in’ which denoted space, and was defined as ‘into; onto; towards or against’. This form of the Latin would explain the emergence of another spelling of the word, ‘impower’. (Lincoln, Travers, Ackers & Wilkinson, 2002, p. 272).

Furthermore, Lincoln et al. also mention that the use of the word ’empower’ was first recorded in a book written by Hamon L’Estrange in the 17th century, called The Reign of King Charles. According to them, L’Estrange wrote the word ’empower’ as a synonym of the word which meant ‘authorizing’ or ‘licensing’.[4]Lincoln et al. (2002, p. 272) quote the sentence as follows: ”Letters from the Pope”, wrote L’Estrange, ”empowering them to erect this college.”. However, if we review the manuscript of The Reign of King Charles, which was published in 1656 (with the information about its publisher, which was London: Printed by F.L. and J.G. for Hen: Seile, Senior and Junior, over against St. Dunstans Church in Fleetstreet, and Edw: Dod, at the Gun in Ivy-lane), p. 73, Hamon L’Estrange wrote: “They found also divers letters from the Pope to them, empowering them to to erect this college under the name of Domus Probationis…”. Lincoln et al. also mention the poem of the English poet John Milton, entitled Paradise Lost, which was first published in 1667. In the poem, Milton used the word ‘impower’, which by Lincoln et al. is interpreted as to ‘impart or bestow power’.[5]In the poem Paradise Lost, Book X, lines 369 and 370, it is written: “Within Hell Gates till now, thou us impow’rd; To fortifie thus farr, and overlay”. See the website of Paradise Lost: http://www.paradiselost.org/, accessed on April 21, 2016. The findings are equivalent to the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary (online version), that ’empower’ means (1) “Give (someone) the authority or power to do something”; or (2) “Make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights”.

The activity of making the rengka, it was held by local residents in Pemenang Subdistrict, in preparation for the Bangsal Menggawe 2016 parade, part of AKUMASSA Chronicle 2016.

By stating certainly the meaning of the words ‘power’ and ’empower’, we need to ask, is empowerment essentially intended for power? The implementation of empowerment within the scope of a particular community, for example, does it mean that it makes the community only has the ‘power’ (which implies the idea of the presence of the pre state, which is a ‘powerless state’)?

It seems that this question is answered by Lincoln et al. by emphasizing that the root word ‘power’ is the essence which is needed to be criticized instead to interpret the word ’empowerment’, just like their explanation which is quoted as follows:

It seems that we must move away from the connection of empowerment to power per se, and address instead its more indirect end… that is the acknowledgement of power to achieve an end rather than as an end in itself. In this respect, power is an essential component of any interpretation of empowerment, not least because it remains its root word. …there is a danger that over the centuries of usage the importance of power, within the concept of empowerment, has been overemphasized. Nowadays, there is a constant need to remind the reader that empowerment is not ‘power itself’, but a process by which the latter is only bestowed to an end or for a purpose. (Lincoln, Travers, Ackers & Wilkinson, 2002, p. 273).

Lincoln et al.’s suggestion certainly do not mean separating empowerment from power verbally, but rather emphasizing the effort to understand the relation between the two because though they are different, the empowerment concept always relates to the concept of power. As Sadan says, quoting Rappaport (1987), the concept of empowerment “…leans on its original meaning of investment with legal power—permission to act for some specific goal or purpose.” (Sadan, 2004, p. 73). Therefore, no wonder why in her elaborate explanation, Sadan reviews the history of the idea of power first[6]In the context of her explanation, the word ‘power’ means ‘kekuasaan‘ in Indonesian., from the political philosophy thoughts of Nicollò Machiavelli (The Prince) and Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan); then to the area of ​​sociology of Max Weber’s idea which paid attention to the bureaucratic system, continues to thoughts after that which even criticized Weber’s; the idea of ​​theory of community power a la Robert Dahl who saw power as “the ability to make someone do something they have not been able to do”, then to the critics of Dahl, who were Peter Bachrach & Morton Baratz and Steven Lukes; then John Gaventa’s thought (1980) on “the phenomenon of quiescence… in conditions of glaring inequality“, which concluded that “the purpose of power is to prevent groups from participating in the decision-making processes and also to obtain the passive agreement of these groups to this situation”; organizational outflanking concept by Michael Mann (1986) who argued that the resource of the organization and tools to activate it were really needed for the efficient resistance to the power; Stewart R. Clegg’s circuits of power (1989), which showed how the power and resistance, as the aspects of social life, were in a state of interdependence, but in those circuits of power, there was always a permanent possibility for a change; and the thought of Michel Foucault (1970-1980’s) who spawned theories about decentralization of power in detail, about the relation between resistance and power, about the power as a knowledge, about the power as something that could generate a positive effect and about resistance to power as part of the relations of power itself; as well as the thinking of Anthony Giddens (1982; 1984) about the duality of structure: “power is integrated within a complex social practice, in which human agency has structural qualities, and the social structure is part of the human activity that creates it and ensures its continuity” (see Sadan, 2004, p. 33-69).

By understanding the theoretical references mentioned by Sadan, we can take the standpoint to interpret the word ’empower’ that, in this context, empower is more appropriately understood as the antithesis of power and empowerment is a manifestation of the dialectical process. We can cite the interpretation of Page and Czuba, that (1) referring to the view of Weber about power as something that exists in the context of the relationship between people and things, then power and power relationships can change (because human’s relationships can be changed) so that empowerment as a process of change becomes meaningful; (2) power does not have the concept of zero-sum[7]Simply, zero-sum can be interpreted that the total value of the winning party (+1) added with the losing side (-1) is always zero [(+1) (- 1) = 0]., but an energy that can be expanded (or shared), which means that an increase of power as a whole can only be realized by strengthening the power of others rather than destroying it (Page & Czuba, 1999, para. 3-8).

This interpretation of Page and Czuba gives the impression that empowerment as a process does not aim to increase the power of individual or a single party, but rather to increase the equality of all parties to have the power equally. Based on the interpretation, it is important for us to emphasize the relation between the individuals and the people in the concept of empowerment: an increase in the ability of an individual is not for the individuals themselves, but because of their existence and social relationships within a group. The concept of empowerment will only be valid when an increase in the ability of an individual has an impact on the increase of their collective ability as a whole. This was confirmed by Rappaport (1984), as cited by Zimmerman: “Empowerment is viewed as a process: the mechanism by which people, organizations, and communities gain mastery over their lives,” in other words, as an idea, Rappaport proposed that in empowerment, “participation with others to achieve goals, efforts to gain access to resources, and some critical understanding of the sociopolitical environment are basic components of [it]…” (Zimmerman, 2000, pp. 43-44).

Mural works in Tebango Bolot village created by The Broy, one of the AKUMASSA Chronicle’s participant artists in 2016.

We switch on the term in the Indonesian language, based on the Glossary of the Language Center, there is no other standard Indonesian term determined for empowerment besides the word ‘pemberdayaan‘. And in this case, we need to realize that ‘pemberdayaan‘ is a derivative from the combination of the verb ‘berdaya‘ and the circumfix ‘pe-an’; and the verb ‘berdaya‘ itself is a derivative from the combination of the bound morpheme {ber-} and the free morpheme {daya}. Following the etymological tracing method of the word ’empowerment’ which has been explained previously, then the word ‘daya‘ is an important component to be criticized.

Unfortunately, there are only a few references that could clearly show the etymology of the word ‘daya‘. If we look at the source of dictionaries earlier, based on the results collected by the non-Indonesian thinkers, the origin of the word ‘daya‘ seems to be able to be traced back to Sundanese, which has two meanings: (1) to deceive, to persuade to anything under false pretences—this explains the emergence of the word ‘tipu daya‘ in Indonesian; and (2) artifice, trick (‘intelligence’ or ‘ingenuity’, or ‘tip’ and ‘finesse’) (Rigg, 1862, p. 103). We can also review some words in Sanskrit. In the Sanskrit-English dictionary compiled by Macdonell (1893), there are some words of which the spelling is similar to ‘daya‘,[8]However, with the limitation, the writer cannot be sure about the pronunciation. among others are the words दय or dáya, which can mean to allot (‘to share’), to have compassion on (‘to love’) , or to sympathise with (‘sympathize with’) (see p. 116); the word दाय or dâ-ya, which can mean giving (“giving voluntarily”) and gift (‘present’); and the word दाय or dâ-yá, which can mean to share (‘to distribute’ or ‘to use together’) (see p. 118).

Related to a more modern interpretation, this word has been officially registered in the standard Indonesian language, and of certain aspects its meaning has a similarity to the word ‘kuasa (power)’. The word ‘daya‘ is defined as a noun and it means “kemampuan untuk melakukan sesuatu atau bertindak (the ability to do something or to act)” (Indonesian Dictionary, 2008, p. 325), it is the same with the word ‘kuasa (power)’ which means “kemampuan atau kesanggupan untuk berbuat sesuatu (the ability or capacity to do something)” (Indonesian Dictionary, 2008, p. 763), and both are synonyms which mean ‘kekuatan (power)’.

However, we can also interpret the word ‘daya‘ politically, by pulling the existence of the spelling of the word “d-a-y-a“ itself which is contained in the word ‘b-u-d-a-y-a’ in Indonesian. Etymologically, the origin of the word ‘budaya‘ can also be traced from Sanskrit, which are बुद्धि or bud-dhi, which means‘intelligence’; बुध or bódha which means ‘intelligent’, or búdhya which means‘to regain consciousness’ or ‘to become aware of’, or bhodáya, which can mean ‘to restore to life’, ‘to cause to open or expand’, ‘to impart to’, and ‘to communicate’ (see Macdonell, 1893, pp.196-197). The root words with such meanings provoke interesting interpretation of what are listed in the Indonesian Dictionary, that, while the word ‘kuasa‘ means ‘authority over something’ or “to rule”, the word ‘daya‘ means “finesse” (or “deception”), “mind, thought, and effort” instead. The essential difference of these two words can be seen as a basic reason for us to approve the translation of empowerment into pemberdayaan. Conceptually, “finesse” (or “deception”) implies the idea of ​​tactic and strategy; “mind” and “thought” imply the knowledge and idea; while “effort” implies the idea of ​​attempt—whichin this case, indicates a process. The reference from Sanskrit—which undeniably has been becoming one of the sources for the development of our language until today—also shows that the word ‘daya‘, however, does not suggest power in the sense of having the single domination (individual), but power in the sense of a condition that requires the essence of sharing (in other words, is collective).

Thus, we can conclude that the empowerment, ideologically, is not merely for the sake of achieving power or having that power itself (to become a ruler or dominant), but conceptually rather intends to increase the common sense of individual and community for the sake of awareness of something (i.e. the goal which they want to achieve together). In addition, we can also state that ontologically, the empowerment action will only be meaningful and exist when there is a cultural[9]The word ‘cultural’ means ‘kebudayaan’ in Indonesian. awareness in it.

Some Examples of Empowerment

Some examples of the application of the concept and action of empowerment can be mentioned here, where they are concretely present in various global contexts. The examples of empowerment that exist which choose the aspect of education as an area which opens public participation are not only a few. Connolly (2011) explains, for example, that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is considered as the leading institution in the global field that powers a community education for social and cultural development, both for individual and community, through the training and the increase in adults’ awareness, awareness of gender, equality and justice, health education, to handle the issues that afflict children, youth, or the adults themselves.

Pemenang kids took a group photo after attending the “Pasar Ilmu” workshop, a community-based art project initiated by Serrum in the framework of the Bangsal Menggawe 2017.

Meanwhile, other international organizations also play this role with the scope of the activities across the region, such as the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (Australia) that focuses on the education and empowerment of immigrants; Kehewin Community Education Centre (Canada) focuses on the increase of awareness of the culture and practice of indigenous people of America; or in the United States, such as The Grace Alliance for Community Education which is active in building the capacity of local community in Africa on issues of health and prosperity, and GATEWAY Project which takes an interest in the welfare of the immigrant community of Latin America in the United States (see Connolly, 2011, p. 136 ). While those organizations echo the importance of sensitivity to local wisdom, there is also an example of another organization in Southeast Asia, specifically in Philippines, which uses that local knowledge itself instead in its action of empowerment. It is Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE). This organization promotes local knowledge of farming community in order to protect themselves from the attack of global market and the tendency of the form of the agricultural production which has been developing lately (see Connolly, 2011, p. 137).

In another context, some empowerment movements in Asia emerge because they are triggered by political turmoil, economic development, and cultural shift (Chaudhuri, 2010). One of them is the issue of women’s participation in economic and political fields as a function of development for both the fields themselves. Specifically, cases like this are around the life of women laborers. Chaudhuri (2010) states that one of the main factors that cause discrimination against women in the economic, social, and political fields, is the religious and tradition norms that are still gender bias, as shown by the results of the study on the issue in Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, and India. This seems to be the trigger for the emergence of activism-based empowerment movement in the form of international association, such as the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India which is pioneered by Ela Bhatt. Initiated in the ’70s in Ahmedabad, this association had developed into the biggest trade association in India in the ’90s, and had even had a bank that they managed themselves—it began to be established three years after the organization was founded—which now has about 70,000 customers (The Right Livelihood Award, 2013). Interestingly, as described by Munodawafa (2009), this association founded by the women of the lower class develops by organizing itself in the trade issue and implementing a cooperative-based service activity so that they can improve their bargaining position against the middlemen and contractors (2009, p. 13). In addition, the secret of success of this association lies on the structure of the organization of which the leadership is largely held by the parties who are the grass roots (or local people), and the excellence in implementing networking and partnership strategies with agents who are agree with their ideology; the association also builds partnership with the government so that they are more freely to advocate and lobby the policy/legislation at national and international levels—an intersectoral strategy to produce a synergy among the various networks to improve the service quality integrally for all its members (2009, p. 14).

“Wayang Karsunda”, a community-based art project initiated by Citra Sasmita in the frame work of the Bangsal Menggawe 2017.

Not to mention, the field of art also has an important role in echoing the empowerment activities, in the era of 90s, for example, in Southeast Asia, in the development of the social landscape that was affected by economic changes, following the emergence of many protests from people. It was followed by various reforms in the ​​institutional area-People Power (1986) in the Philippines, the political turmoil in Thailand (1980s), the open economic policy in Vietnam (1986), the openness to the foreign investment that occurred in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand-some artists (both individually and collectively) had the initiative to use their works as a way to explore a variety of issues (social inequality, corruption, environment, and authoritarianism). They were, among others, the Artist Village in Singapore (1988), Vasan Sitthiket in Thailand (1995), or in Indonesia, the initiative by FX Harsono and friends who actively promoted the protest in the era at the end of the New Order (see Lenzi, 2011, para. 1-4). We have to mention another example, Seni Rupa Penyadaran (Arts Awareness) project developed by Moelyono involving various activist and non-governmental organization (NGO) circles, who in 1989 to 1991 held an exhibition entitled “Seni Rupa Penyadaran (Arts Awareness)” in Surabaya, Solo, Salatiga, and Yogyakarta (Moelyono, 2013). This examples of turmoil and dynamics of art in Southeast Asia in the ’90s confirms that art can comprehensively offer a critique, or alternative of the power structure-the visual arts was considered as a real tool of the popular empowerment (see Lenzi, 2011 , para. 6).

In the context of Indonesia, the fall of the New Order opens the faucet of freedom, followed by the spread of audio-visual technology (video) which is sold massively to the public at affordable prices, as well as the factor of public access to Internet technology which becomes easier. This condition also triggers many movements of professional and grass roots in the field of media and art which have a correspondence with the ideas of empowerment. The period near the 1998 Reformation was a euphoric era in welcoming a new democracy in Indonesia. Juliastuti (2006) explains that during this time, the approaches and technology of media, was not limited to video, then they were used by many people for the purpose of social justice, such as the emergence of the movement of local community media, such as community radio, local zine, online media, which used independent and underground distribution in the circle of the community activists (see KUNCI Cultural Studies Center & EngageMedia, 2009, p. 18). It is also recorded that, specifically video technology has even been used as a tool of empowerment by activists in Indonesia since the 1980s, such as in empowerment activity by Pusat Kateketik (PUSKAT) in Yogyakarta, empowerment activity that has been carried out in East Flores in order to empower the community who were the victims of plague of leprosy, or the movement of the advocacy of the costumary right of the community of Kei Islands, Maluku, by Insist (see KUNCI Cultural Studies Center & EngageMedia, 2009, p. 19).

Related to the combination of the art and media discourse, in the era of the 2000s then some organizations, that boldly used the perspective of art to sound out the potential of media and community works as a tactic to create social changes appeared. Two of them which were important to be mentioned were ruangrupa with its OK. Video festival and Jatiwangi Art Factory with its various empowerment activities. These two examples of organization implemented the networking strategy with so many organizations, both community organizations in various parts of Indonesia as well as the international network, and wrapped the contemporary issues into the art events, as well as organized so many workshops that serve as a place of education for increasing the capacity of individual and group. At the same time (2003), Forum Lenteng was established and then one of its programs was to initiate the program of Community-Based Media Education, AKUMASSA, in order to respond to the drastic changes in the social and cultural fields after the Reformation, initiating a movement of empowerment at the community level that brought the spirit of culture.

The Empowerment in the AKUMASSA Chronicle Art Project

The explanation about the definition of ‘pemberdayaan‘ and ’empowerment’ that we have tried to describe before has generated a few key words that could be selected to confirm the definition of the concept and action of empowerment in the AKUMASSA Chronicle Art Project, i.e. ‘process’, ‘ ingenuity’, ‘sharing’, ‘awareness’, ‘equality’, ‘communication’ and ‘culture’.

AKUMASSA focuses on the issue of community-based media education. Awareness of the media, all of its potential, and all media related issues that can be managed for the maturity of society, is the field that AKUMASSA works on. However, what equally important in the ideology of AKUMASSA is the procedure of the process of the spread of knowledge and information, both from the media and about the media itself, which is formulated as an activity that occurs in an egalitarian way. AKUMASSA believes that every person, group, community, society, in every place, has a wealth of knowledge and its type of social, economic, and cultural life which is not lower or higher between one another. The empowerment action in the AKUMASSA Chronicle Art Project activity implements the collaborative-participatory work as the primary method. AKUMASSA believes that empowerment is not the professional’s domain (journalists, activists, artists, researchers or academics) only, but also the domain of ordinary citizens. It is based on the orientation of the empowerment itself that is explained by Rappaport (1985), which is replacing the term ‘client’ and ‘expert’ to ‘participant’ and ‘collaborator’ (Zimmerman, 2000, p. 44).

“Kusir Idaman”, a community-based art project initiated by Daniel Emet and cidomo drivers in Pemenang Subdistrict, in the framework of the Bangsal Menggawe 2017.

Clinging firmly to the essence of culture as the benchmark for the quality of civilization of a community, Forum Lenteng through AKUMASSA choose media as its main work because, as we believe, every culture is always built by the work of media. The media is anything. In fact, conceptually, cultural activities themselves, such as an art event, indigenous movement, or subculture turmoil, can become the media itself. Indeed, we go back to the basic definition of ‘media’, i.e. “the means of intermediary and communication”. To construct an order (in this case, the cultural order), the sensitivity to the means that could connect one element to another is required. Therefore, the media awareness is always referred to as the most basic awareness before moving to the advanced awareness, including cultural awareness.

In a contemporary phenomenon, the issue of media becomes a problem that can not be separated from our everyday lives, especially if we talk about mass media. The domination of influence of the media conglomeration makes people become increasingly disoriented. We experience a state of paradox. Increasingly sophisticated technology produces so many resources, but it feels so difficult to be accessed along with the multiplication effect of advanced capitalism system (plus the emergence of cyberspace) which is embellished with political interests and global riots which contain religious myth and racism. Any source of knowledge and information, on the other hand, is held by a few parties who have the power to control the situation. This limitation of access to knowledge and information then has an impact on economic and social development in various areas, and also along with our negligence to understand the cultural significance as the central solution.

Essentially, we need to believe that the economic and social conditions in life is a consequence of a cultural characteristic built. Deep understanding of the culture will automatically determine the pattern of life and shape the economic and social characteristics of a society. Therefore, the intervention in the culture is likely to trigger certain effects for the improvement of the order of life.

Of course, the significance of the concept of culture, in the empowerment action brought by AKUMASSA Chronicle, is a selected standpoint based on the field of our work over the years. However, in the conceptual and practical framework of the empowerment itself, basically, the wide opportunities for culture to become the main energy are open.

The celebration of the Bangsal Menggawe 2017 themed “Siq-siq O Bungkuk” in Pemenang District, North Lombok.

Zimmerman (2000) explains that the orientation of empowerment is to create social change by directing the attention to the process of adaptation and the improvement of competence. The approach in the empowerment actually is far beyond the action that merely improves the negative aspects of a situation because empowerment is in fact searches the positive aspects that exist (p. 44). In addition, empowerment is also oriented that community members involved in it have to have active roles in the process of change, not only in the implementation of a project, but also in setting the agenda (p. 45). This means that within an individual, a group (organization), and the public, there must be awareness of those orientations, or at least something that triggers their awareness. In micro context, Bandura (2000) defines empowerment as development of self-efficacy, which in the context of emotional experience, one must learn to process their experiences in order to empower themselves to become an independent agent (Wallace-DiGarbo & Hill, 2006). Meanwhile, several studies have shown that a variety of projects that have used art intervention, could fill those needs. Art allows a person to think differently, to open the chance of imagination and to think flexibly. It also offers a means of self-expression of hope, and it is consistent with the complexity and integrity of everyday experience, so that it has the potential to be a powerful tool to build up someone’s competence, and can mobilize various types of internal and external resources (see Wallace-DiGarbo & Hill, 2006, p. 119).

Therefore, AKUMASSA also specifically believes the art as a right strategy to arouse a social situation of the society to be more sensitive to the culture. In this context, AKUMASSA sees that the art is the media, and the media becomes art. The idea of ​​media literacy carried by AKUMASSA is not only limited to the issue of human maturity in responding the phenomenon of the mass media, or simply criticism of the flow of information, but more than that. The media literacy in question encompasses everything that can be seen as an opportunity to organize and manage the public interests, in order to achieve equality in every aspect of life. And art, either in ideas or in practices, is a means and at the same time an arena that can provide certain speculations for us in reading the new possibilities to change the situation. Through art, the intervention of culture becomes very certain. Through the media, the discourse can be expanded and multiplied. Starting from this construction the empowerment within the framework of AKUMASSA Chronicle Art Project is done.

Jakarta, April 28, 2016


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Footnote   [ + ]

1. We are the main actors who are involved in various activities of AKUMASSA. This program is initiated by Forum Lenteng and as part of the Program of Community-Based Media Education, since 2008, it has been collaborating with local communities in different regions to develop a media center that can independently produce and distribute knowledge-information-experience in order to build the local areas where those communities are located.
2. By the same source, it is mentioned that this era was in the 1150-1500’s.
3. The style of Norman French-the Old French spoken by the Normans-which was used in England after the William of Normandy’s conquest of England and became the language of the British nobility for a few centuries.
4. Lincoln et al. (2002, p. 272) quote the sentence as follows: ”Letters from the Pope”, wrote L’Estrange, ”empowering them to erect this college.”. However, if we review the manuscript of The Reign of King Charles, which was published in 1656 (with the information about its publisher, which was London: Printed by F.L. and J.G. for Hen: Seile, Senior and Junior, over against St. Dunstans Church in Fleetstreet, and Edw: Dod, at the Gun in Ivy-lane), p. 73, Hamon L’Estrange wrote: “They found also divers letters from the Pope to them, empowering them to to erect this college under the name of Domus Probationis…”.
5. In the poem Paradise Lost, Book X, lines 369 and 370, it is written: “Within Hell Gates till now, thou us impow’rd; To fortifie thus farr, and overlay”. See the website of Paradise Lost: http://www.paradiselost.org/, accessed on April 21, 2016.
6. In the context of her explanation, the word ‘power’ means ‘kekuasaan‘ in Indonesian.
7. Simply, zero-sum can be interpreted that the total value of the winning party (+1) added with the losing side (-1) is always zero [(+1) (- 1) = 0].
8. However, with the limitation, the writer cannot be sure about the pronunciation.
9. The word ‘cultural’ means ‘kebudayaan’ in Indonesian.

About the author


Manshur Zikri

He is graduates of the Department of Criminology, Faculty of Social and Political Science, University of Indonesia. A member of Forum Lenteng, he is an executive of akumassa Program. He is also active as a film critic at the Journal Footage, and as Curator in ARKIPEL - Jakarta International Documentary & Experimental Film Festival.

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